Plymouth Argyle (Home)

May 31, 2023 | 2023 A Season in Review

The Memorial Stadium Saturday 22nd October 2022

Bristol Rovers 2

Coburn (48), Collins (57)

Plymouth Argyle 2

Azaz (14), Randell (45+2)

Referee: Christopher Pollard

Attendance: 9,258

Prior to kick off manager Joe Barton revealed that skipper Paul Coutts could be missing from action for a few weeks following a training ground injury and, as if to confirm that point the influential midfielder made his way across the pitch to the dugout on crutches and wearing a protective boot.

The manager also revealed that on loan midfielder Sylvester Jasper had returned to his parent club, Fulham. He would later elaborate on the reasons for that move in his post match press conference but, reading between the lines, the player wasn’t happy with his lack of game time.

It might also have had something to do with the fact that Barton had signed free agent and former Rovers Academy graduate Scott Sinclair earlier in the week and he duly took his place on the bench as he began his second spell as a Rovers player.

Argyle came to the Mem as league leaders and their first half performance showed why, and how, they have reached that position.

Rovers, let’s not forget, came into the game on the back of a six game unbeaten run and having won their last three league games, so the stage was set for an epic encounter and we weren’t to be disappointed.

The visitors gained the upper hand with a 14th minute goal of stunning quality from on loan Aston Villa midfielder Finn Azaz who curled a left foot shot that went in off the post. It truly was a magnificent effort.

Aaron Collins missed a gilt edged opportunity to equalise when he found himself in a one on one situation with goalkeeper Michael Cooper, but the shot stopper came out on top in this particular duel and the opportunity wasn’t taken.

Then came another stunning Argyle goal two minutes into first half stoppage time. Adam Randell collected a clearance 25 yards from goal and lashed a shot past James Belshaw.

Barton decided to change tactics at the start of the second half, sacrificing Luca Hoole for striker Josh Coburn and playing three up top.

He was rewarded two minutes into the second half when Collins crossed from the right and Coburn bundled the ball over the line at the near post. There were half hearted complaints from the Argyle defenders that the striker had handled, but the goal stood.

Rovers, roared on by the majority of the 9,258 crowd, were in the ascendancy and Argyle on the ropes and so it came as no surprise when the equaliser arrived.

Inevitably, it was Collins who scored at the end of a move started by Jordan Rossiter and aided by a Ryan Loft backheel. When the ball reached Collins he did what he does best and stroked the ball past Michael Cooper to register his ninth league goal of the campaign.

After a constant battering, Argyle did venture forward late on, while Rovers kept searching for an opening that would give them all three points.

Late on Sinclair was sent on in an attempt to break the deadlock, some 17 years and 196 days since his last appearance in a Rovers shirt. He didn’t manage it, but what a game!

Bristol Rovers: Belshaw, Hoole (Coburn, 46), Thomas, Gibson, Gordon, Rossiter, Finley, Evans, Anderson (Gibbons, 65), Loft (Sinclair, 89), Collins (McCormick, 83).

Substitutes: Jaakkola, Clarke, Saunders.

Plymouth Argyle: Cooper, Wilson, Lonwijk, Galloway, Mumba, Houghton, Randell (Butcher, 77), Edwards (Grant, 67), Whittaker (Hardie, 62), Azaz, Ennis.

Substitutes: Burton, Craske, Jenkins-Davies, Edworthy.


Former Rovers player Mark Hughes is a member of the Plymouth Argyle management team

Yellow card issued to Ryan Loft

Sam Finley was skipper

Seven games undefeated in all competitions

Four substitutes used

Seven added minutes

(Photos courtesy of JMP)

Keith Brookman